A recurring Red Shirt
, as impossible as it sounds. This character is, and sometimes exists only to be, killed off repetitively (sometimes even Once per Episode
), always returning by the next one
, as a Running Gag
Usually found in shows with Negative Continuity
, particularly Sadist Shows
- in more realistic shows, the character may be a robot who can be rebuilt or replaced between episodes, or immortal
in some way, unless there's a "Groundhog Day" Loop
going on. The character does not need to die permanently as long as he appears to die in the narrative.
A subtrope of Negative Continuity
and Comedic Sociopathy
. A ritualized form of Staying Alive
. Could overlap with The Chew Toy
and Cosmic Plaything
. Often a by-product of Death Is Cheap
. Chronically Crashed Car
is a variant that refers to vehicles, and Chronically Killed Actor
one that refers to actors whose characters
usually die. Compare the Iron Butt Monkey
, who gets horribly injured on a regular basis but rarely or never actually dies.
Although similar to Comic Book Death
, wherein a character may 'die' and come back to life multiple times throughout the course of a series, in this case the character dying is more likely to be a supporting character, and their return is usually not commented on and Played for Laughs
As of season 14 of South Park
, this trope has been deconstructed via a Cerebus Retcon
. Details can be found in the main and character pages.
this is a comedy trope. If it's not a Running Gag
, it's probably just Death Is Cheap
As this is a Death Trope, Expect spoilers!
open/close all folders
- Louie the Fly, in the Mortein insect spray commercials. For the character's 50th anniversary, Mortein had a public poll on whether to kill him off permanently.
- A common theme of commercials for Wilkins Coffee, created by Jim Henson, which involves a character named Wontkins who continuously keeps getting killed for refusing to drink the advertised product.
Anime and Manga
- Great Lakes Avengers:
- Mr. Immortal. His one power is the ability to come back from the dead after a few minutes. Since he has a considerable lack of fighting skills, this mostly translates to him frequently dying in a variety of hilariously painful and bizarre ways. Death by giant novelty scissors, death by impalement from a remote control, death by alcohol poisoning from a ray that was only supposed to make him drunk...
- An interesting variation in the succession of Grasshoppers that join the same team; none of them are the same character, but all of them take the hero name Grasshopper, join the team to replace the last Grasshopper, and then get killed in various ugly ways, each with less panel time than the one before.
- The MAD Magazine comic Spy vs. Spy features a black and a white spy trying to outsmart each other, and either one of them usually ends up beaten or dead by the end of the strip, only to be alive and well by the next gag. (There is also a sub-set of Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy strips which generally end with both the black and the white spy being dead, outwitted by the (female) grey spy.) According to Word of God from creator Antonio Prohías, they are not the same spy, but are instead merely spies from rival nations that die horribly and are replaced — this was the basis of his commentary on the Cold War.
- The Red Tornado gets blown up so many times it's become a running gag in the Justice League, and also makes its way into Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
- Similarly, the android Avenger The Vision gets killed / destroyed and then rebuilt all the time, although sometimes he comes back wrong, and it takes a few years for Status Quo Is God to bring him completely back to normal.
- Emperor Palpatine in Dark Empire. Practically everyone kills him. Mostly Luke and Leia. Han kills him the last time.
- Due to a combination of Black Comedy and Negative Continuity, nearly the entire cast of Twisted Toyfare Theatre, or at least the setting Megoville, dies several times over the course of the series. The character guides in the trades frequently list several deaths for each character. Bucky probably dies the most consistently.
- It's well known among Transformers fans that any character without a toy is a Red Shirt. The Transformers Armada comic series had a recurring Red Shirt in Dropshot, whose design was taken from a Japanese transforming robot that was not imported during the original series' run.
- The Decepticon Dirge is in any number of unconnected comic series, and meets his doom in nearly every last one, and blows up twice in the G1 cartoon. His death count may be higher than Prime. The TF Wiki quotes his Badass Boast, "Death comes to he who crosses me!" and attributes it to "a confused Dirge." However, this is eventually averted in Transformers: Robots in Disguise, which is one of the few series (possibly only) where he survives several potentially lethal incidents and becomes an important recurring character.
- The Decepticon Quake is also fairly death prone.
- All the Seacons are fairly susceptible to this, having died across multiple continuities, but among them, poor Nautilator easily takes the cake.
- One of the comic series plays with Optimus' tendency to bite it (see the Western Animation folder) by titling a special issue The Death of Optimus Prime. For once, it's metaphorical; Optimus is freed from the burden of leadership and declares That Man Is Dead, returning to his original identity of Orion Pax.
- DC's Solomon Grundy is a cursed zombie (sort of), so whenever he dies, he just rises again from the same swamp he died in (often with a completely new personality, including some times where he's been heroic), which of course happens all the time. Eventually they just strand him on an uninhabited planet.
- A number of characters in Viz have died and come back without explanation, but Suicidal Sid and Big Vern (and his supporting cast) die almost every time.
- The Finnish western comic, Pekkos Bill, have the titular hero dying violently in every third panel, always with the same smug expression on his face (unless the death involves the obliteration of his head or entire person).
- Iznogoud, in his plots to overthrow the Caliph, always ends up locked in a dungeon, permanently transformed, vanished, etc. and is back to resume his plotting at the beginning of the next episode.
- Freddy in Horndog.
- In The Sandman, the Dream's retinue includes Cain and Abel. Since they are technically an Anthropomorphic Personification of the idea of fratricide, Cain kills Abel almost every time they appear in the comic, in various ways (most infamously, mincing him into sausages as part of a stage performance for the visiting gods.)
- Uncle Festus in The Bojeffries Saga is ridiculously vulnerable to all the standard vampire weaknesses and constantly dies in ludicrous ways as a result. Fortunately, blood always seems to end up falling on his ashes, resurrecting him.
- Given Optimus Prime's track record in this department (See Western Animation below), it was natural this would happen in The Transformers, along with its sequel series Transformers Generation 2. Optimus dies three times, the first time he's killed over a video game, the second time to destroying Unicron, and the third time to expose the light of the Matrix to the Swarm, from which he recovers almost instantly. That's not counting the alternate future of the UK comics, where he dies as he did in Transformers: The Movie, or in Regeneration One, where he's possessed by the corrupted Matrix, and then sort of dies. Of course, none of these are actually played for laughs, but... it's Optimus Prime. He's not going to stay dead.
- Multiple Man of the X-Men can fulfill this trope, for obvious reasons.
- The Metal Men used to get destroyed at the end of every story, and then Doc Magnus would fix them. They have a better survival rate these days.
- In Little Nicky, the title character is killed a total of seven times throughout the movie. As a son of the Devil, he has Justified Extra Lives and can just walk out of Hell. First, he gets hit by a train two seconds after arriving on Earth. Then he gets hit by a bus, attacked by a polar bear, hit by a truck, drowned by his roommate and stoner friends (at his own insistence), and hit by a train again while protecting his girlfriend — which, as as selfless act, sends him to Heaven. Finally, Valerie smashes his skull with a boulder given to her by Ozzy Osbourne so he can see his dad one last time.
- In the first, second, and third Scary Movie films Brenda gets killed and she's always back for the next one. The fourth one she actually survived. In a scene available in the DVD, she is celebrating finally not being killed off in the movie, then a cargo container falls on her.
- In the first two Men In Black movies, the local alien black market dealer Jack Jeebs serves a humorous variant on this trope in which his head is blown off, only to re-grow within less than a minute. This happens multiple times in both movies, usually with the MIB themselves perpetrating the deed, much to his frustration ("You insensitive pricks, do you have any idea how much that stings?").
Jeebs: Even if I did, if it doesn't work, K dies, you blow my head off. If it does work, I brought back K who, just for the fun of it, blows my head off. Sooo, what's my incentive?
[K raises his gun to Jeebs' head]
Jeebs: [Weak laugh] Okay homey, I keep it right downstairs next to the snow blower.
- A long-running joke like this is hard to pull off in a film-format, but Top Secret manages with the character of Latrine, who shows up three times, mortally wounded, to gasp out the intelligence he gathered.
- In The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, the bard user gets sick of being resurrected (and subsequently losing a level)... so he brings in 50 more bard character sheets. In one scene, the other characters literally use his pile of corpses as cover.
- The Quirky Miniboss Squad in The 6th Day technically does stay dead, but they clone themselves over and over, and several of the deaths are Played for Laughs. One of them repeatedly expresses a feeling of phantom pain from whatever his previous death was.
- Phil in Groundhog Day is living the same day over and over due to a time paradox. He finally loses it, abducts the town's groundhog, and kills himself by driving off a cliff, only to wake up alive and well the "next" morning. He then spends a long time committing suicide, trying to find a way out, only to keep waking up unharmed the "next" day. While the audience only sees a handful of the attempts, he later talks about his predicament to another character and runs down a verbal list of all the various ways he's killed himself.
- Scamper the rabbit from Igor is killed multiple times, but always comes back because he was injected with an immortality potion. At one point his head is blown off, but it just regenerates; a recurring gag is how he just wants to die permanently.
- Scruffy Banister the cat from Madhouse (the 1990 comedy) died about 7 times in the movie. Its deaths include getting hit by a car, drowning in a fish tank, hit by a lawn mower, blown up by a firecracker, and dying of a heart attack after snorting cocaine. There were attempts to cook and microwave it, with unknown results. In the end, Mark estimates that Scruffy has 3 lives left out of 9 and is going to live them in the titular house.
- Seltzer and Friedberg do this in every one of their "movies".
- Loaded Weapon 1 has a character that keeps returning after his death because he thinks it's the sequel already.
- The Three Stooges die at the end of four of their shorts "Half Shot Shooter", "Three Little Sew and Sews", "You Nazty Spie!" (later revealed to have been averted in the sequel,) and "I'll Never Heil Again".
- In The Zombie Knight, nearly every servant character gets their moment in the spotlight. lampshaded by Zeff, who at one point kills off a few misguided Vanguard servants, then quickly apologizes to their reapers.
- The Cat from The Looking-Glass Wars dies repeatedly in the series, since he has nine lives.
- In a Repairman Jack story, Jack is fighting a bunch of mooks when a bomb he'd set as a booby trap went off. Chief Mook: "Oh my Christ, they must've killed Kenny!" Considering that Kenny was his nephew, the Chief Mook took it from merely business to very personal.
- In Joel Chandler Harris' original Uncle Remus stories of Brer Rabbit and company, characters sometimes were said to be actually killed by the actions of Brer Rabbit or the others. In the first volume of stories, Brer Possum burns to death during a 'trial by fire' in Brer Rabbit Nips the Butter, Brer Wolf is locked in a chest and scalded to death in The Awful Fate of Mr. Wolf, and Brer Fox is killed by a farmer and decapitated in The Sad Fate of Mr. Fox. But all are back alive again in the second volume, Nights With Uncle Remus thanks to the Negative Continuity of the stories. Brer Wolf, in particular, is done in again several times in the second volume, and again back as if nothing happened.
- In fact, Brer Wolf is back in a later story in the first volume, How Mr. Rabbit Saved His Meat, which lampshades this. The little boy to whom Uncle Remus tells the stories to objects when Uncle Remus introduces Brer Wolf, saying that Brer Rabbit scalded the wolf to death. Uncle Remus is forced to admit that yes, that's what happened in the earlier story, and that the story he's telling now might take place before it happened or be about a different Brer Wolf. He doesn't really know — he just tells them the way he hears them. And that's his final word on the matter and he goes on with the story.
- Commissar Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) has been mistakenly reported dead so many times that there is a standing order that he isn't to be taken off the active duty list. Inquisitor Vail notes in the commentary that he is the only officer in the history of the Imperium to remain on the active duty list a hundred and fifty years after being buried with full military honors.
- In Daniel Pinkwater's Young Adult Novel, installments of the story within the story "Kevin Shapiro, Boy Orphan" are said to frequently end with Kevin's unceremonious death. Charles the Cat explains: "Kevin is indestructible. You can kill him as often as you like. He can be brought back to life in the next chapter, which usually gets told the following day during lunch."
- In the series of Clue books, Mr. Boddy was always "killed" in the final chapter. He would then explain how he survived in the introduction of the next book, usually by some silly, implausible stroke of luck (i.e., his murderer accidentally picking up a banana instead of a revolver).
- Agrajag from The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy is repeatedly reincarnated and is killed again every time - always by Arthur Dent, and always by accident.
- Deconstructed: It's very very not funny from Agrajag's point of view. Learning that his supposed persecutor doesn't even realise he's doing it pretty much pushes him over the edge.
- Actually conversated in an Animorphs book, where Rachel dreams she killed the Trope Namer.
- Master Pangloss from Voltaire's Candide dies a few times.
- In Dune, Cloning Blues + Genetic Memory = poor, poor Duncan Idaho.
- Though he (usually) dies once per book and for real, Yuri Semetsky is a character who appears (and dies) in a whole lot of works by many post-Soviet authors. It started when Sergey Lukyanenko "killed" a man randomly named Semenetsky in his Autumn Visits and soon met a very real person, book seller Yuri Semetsky. Semetsky jokingly asked Lukyanenko to "kill" his avatar in his next books. The Running Gag quickly transcended to other Russian writers, and for almost two decades "killing Semetsky" has been played straight (ranging from a passing mention to Red Shirt to Heroic Sacrifice), subverted (Semetsky lives, suffers from Disney Death, is "killed" in videogame, an animal named after him (yursem) is hunted to extinction) and zig-zagged (Semetsky has Resurrective Immortality or is cloned a hundred thousand times, so he can be killed over and over again in the same book...), althrough now it's on its way to Dead Horse Trope.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire: Lord Beric Dondarrion has been known to die and be revived from time to time, including one instance in which he was nearly cut in half by Sandor "The Hound" Clegane, only to be standing upright and speaking as if nothing had happened within minutes or less.
- Vocaloid's Len Kagamine and Kaito both have a reputation for getting killed off in many of their songs and music videos.
- "But the cat came back, the very next day. They thought he was a goner but the cat came back 'cause he wouldn't stay away!"
- Devo's mascot, Booji Boy, has met many a gruesome end, getting stabbed at the end of the video that marked his first on-camera appearance, and then moving on to getting electrocuted, having his head crushed, and being beheaded by Osama Bin Laden.
- Long before South Park, Bluebottle of The Goon Show was doing this in every episode, though sometimes inverted when all the other characters died except him. Of course this show was made of Negative Continuity.
- The later British radio comedy series The Burkiss Way featured the character of Eric Pode of Croydon, most of whose appearances ended with him getting shot by whoever he was talking to, usually the long-suffering Fred Harris. On one single occasion, Pode shot Harris, announcing 'I had to do that, he was getting on me nerves.'
- The early "Guy Noir" sketches on A Prairie Home Companion (and its 80s substitute, Garrison Keillor's American Radio Company) were set up in this manner, with the title character and his then-sidekick, Jimmy, repeatedly accidentally killing each other. After the Moral Guardians protested these violent acts, Jimmy was Killed Off for Real and "Guy Noir" adapted its current format, with Noir getting by on his wits alone.
- This is very easy to do in Mortasheen, given how Death Is Cheap in the setting due to easy cloning.
- It's not uncommon for adaptations of Dungeons & Dragons to parody the relative ease in which dead PCs can be resurrected.
- Samario, from DAOA. He dies in one episode and then appears in the next without any explanation.
- At least one member of the Teen Girl Squad dies comically at the end of almost every issuenote , only to return without explanation between issues.
- The Spelunker in the Michael Quest flash series by Sikamako.
- John & Richie animations do this pretty often with John.
- The Battle Creek Grunts from Red vs. Blue. They exist to lampshade almost every multiplayer FPS trope, including respawning at the end of a match.
- All of the characters in Retarded Animal Babies die frequently. Bunny, in particular, dies in every episode.
- Black Kitty of Goodbye Kitty.
- Happy Tree Friends: Most of the cast, with Cuddles (just barely) in the lead. Mole is the only character not to have died in the series itself, although he did in a cutscene from the video game adaptation. The reason Mole has not died as frequently as the other characters in the main series is kind of touching: he's blind. So is the daughter of one of the creators. Mole has died several times in the later seasons — most notably, during the episodes "Concrete Solution" and "Idol Curiosity", as well as fifteen other deaths from regular episodes alone. Normally, however, Mole is one of the characters responsible for the deaths of others.
- In Dinosaur Office, any time the Intern appears, Terry (a tyrannosaurus and their boss) eats him not long afterwards.
- Every Youtube Poop character has died at least once.
- Lord Tourettes from Dick Figures dies in most of his appearances.
- How many times have Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade died now?
- Half the point of Nobody Scores!!, in which the entire cast dies with alarming frequency.
- In MSF High, death is cheap. Revives are easy. And one of the characters, Rainer, has multiple bodies. A measure of his killed-count reveals he's beginning to approach this trope.
- Ran from Bob and George, who dies multiple times in a single comic from the slightest touch.
- Done excessively with Red Shirt in Legostar Galactica. It runs in the family.
- Casey and Andy. The tag line was 'mad scientist roommates who periodically die!'. It was always their fault too.
- Cooch of the Bulldog And Cooch strips in PvP, always by falling victim to Stuff Blowing Up.
- From the Fire Emblem Online Comics, we have... You know what, the entire cast.
- Nodwick's title character is pretty much this trope - he often dies multiple times per story.
- In Starslip, Quine's vital role as Protocol Officer means he is equipped to be automatically revived in a fresh clone body any time he dies, which makes him a convenient frequent target for death.
- In The Order of the Stick the string of clerics always standing next to Redcloak so he can have someone to explain to before they die? His name is Jirix. Now ruler of a sovereign goblinoid nation.
- The blond woman in Dinosaur Comics gets stomped by T-Rex every single strip, usually without comment.
- In #465 of Double Fine Action Comics, one of the flies is cut in half by a spear, but is perfectly fine in #673.
- Homestuck takes this trope in a slightly more serious and infrequent direction - John has died three times already, twice not counting Bad Futures, and all in the same day owing to an extreme case of Webcomic Time. The first time led to him becoming a Physical God, so now he's pretty much immortal - as Karkat keeps pointing out, he also keeps proposing ideas which will likely result in him dying again. Hussie lampshaded this in a news post about an imminent move of his:
Moving seems to have become an annual tradition, just like killing John has.
- Jade, Nepeta, and Feferi also have a tendency to die quite a lot. In Nepeta's case, Hussie again lampshades it:
If you look up Expendable Character in the dictionary you would see a picture of Nepeta batting around a ball of yarn while looking as adorable as possible.
- Yaythunder from Bad Drama dies at least once in all six story arcs of the 150-strip comic (twice in the second story arc, though his first death in that arc occurred in a dream world). Yaythunder's deaths appear to be a direct reference to Kenny's deaths on South Park, especially considering the utterance of "Oh my god, they killed Yaythunder!" and "You bastards!" in response to his first death. David, Yaythunder's equivalent in the Bad Drama remake Landslide, has not died so far and it is not clear yet if that running gag will still be used.
- Ctrl+Alt+Del's early strips would feature Ethan getting killed every once in a while by ninjas or arrows fired from off-screen. The other characters don't pay much attention, as if this were absolutely normal, and Ethan (being the main character) is invariably alive and well in the next strip. Players 1, 2, 3 and 4 also get regularly murdered in gruesome fashion, only to come back to receive the same treatment.
- Used in a crossover of game mechanics in Level 30 Psychiatry. Take Roger Wilco's penchant for getting killed, add some 1-up mushrooms and you've got this trope.
Gardevoir: The worst part is, when Roger comes back to life, he'll have to mop up his own shredded remains.
- MegaTokyo's Ed is a crazed, murderous psychopath who only ever manages to kill himself in increasingly ridiculous ways, recovering each time thanks to impossibly advanced medical technology. May be a weird sort of foreshadowing; when he finally manages to kill one of the other characters, she experiences an Unexplained Recovery and reappears unharmed in a hospital.
- 1930's Nightmare Theater had plenty of frequent deaths of the recurring characters yet they were just fine come the next comic.
- The Tommy series in Planescape Survival Guide, whenever one dies another pops up with full plate and a longsword only to rush into the enemy and get killed. So far averted by the First World Tommy
- Adam and Jamie of Mythbusters have a tendency to accidentally kill themselves testing myths in Irregular Webcomic!.
Adam: You can only die once. Busted!
- Dragon Ball Multiverse:
- Strangely, despite his acceptable survival rate in the original series, Gohan is starting to become this, due to all the times he gets ruthlessly killed in the specials. Not to mention Bardock's vision in Chapter 19 of a Vegetto that has attacked and might have killed Gohan.
- Frieza is becoming this too, for similar reasons.
- In Skeletons!, the guy at the bottom of the page is murdered (or at least maimed) on three separate occasions by the weather.
- In Batman and Sons, Ace the Bathound gets killed multiple times over the course of the poor dogs' Story Arc, with a replacement being found after each death, only to die moments after in various darkly humorous ways. Even the goldfish that Tim names Ace dies the moment it's introduced.
- In Final Fantasy VII: The Sevening Cait Sith's bodies are destroyed on a regular basis, forcing him to always send a new one out to rejoin the others.
- Jacinda's grandmother in My Roommate Is an Elf. They're cat people with nine lives, but Jacinda's grandmother gets a thrill out of dying, and she expressed displeasure at being old. She started the series with five lives, and they're slowly dwindling. Every time she dies, she comes back to life fully healed. In the case of old age, she got her youth restored.
- Phelous often dies at the end of his reviews.
- This running gag stopped for awhile after doing a Doctor Who parody for an April Fools joke, where he became someone else and then became himself again. He almost never dies by the end of the episode unless he lampshades it.
- He does this again for To Boldly Flee, with actual "in-story" reason: he is a Red Shirt. Whenever a redshirt is killed, there is always one more just like it (although usually with a different name) waiting in the ship. He is their only redshirt. Thus, whenever he is killed, there is suddenly another Phelous waiting in the ship. Or, to put it another way, he's running simultaneously on Original Series rules (the Red Shirt trope) and Next Generation rules (in which red shirts are important characters).
- Masaya in Tokyo Mew Mew In A Nutshell.
- There had been times in which The Nostalgia Critic died a lot for consecutive episodes. Lampshaded once: "Is it me, or have I been dying a lot recently?"
- Death Is Cheap in Ink City, and Ren tends to die a lot. The fact few of the other residents seem to notice or care make him even bitterer than usual.
- As a reference to her counterpart Aerith's death, the character Aeromite from the Kingdom Hearts parody Kingdom Paf gets killed several times in gruesome ways, only to ALWAYS come back alive a few minutes later.
- Joe in Ted Crusty's videos.
- The Madgie, what did you do? series Madgie is this or, occasionally, some of the stories has it where her fate is ambiguous but in most of them has it that she dies, often in horrible ways, ever since the second story to the rest. She gets better once time is reversed back to the way it was.
- Actually, ANYONE that dies in series is like this, however, Madgie dies the most. This should be noted that this isn't for comedy, rather, in the first instance, it was to make the story moe poignant.
- Icarus in Dragon Ball Abridged. After Goku mentioned him during his fight against Vegeta as a pet of Gohan's who died before the series even began, he has since reappeared alive and well in the Abridged Movies... where he has gained a tendency to get cooked and eaten by Gohan's family by the end of each movie.
- Justified in the SCP Foundation with Dr. Bright uses SCP-963, which transfers his consciousness to the next living thing to touch it. That said, the original Bright is long dead, and so are lots of replacement bodies.
- In canon, Kyubey of Puella Magi Madoka Magica gets "killed" repeatedly in non-joking situations, since he's implied to be a Hive Mind who can just activate a new body when the old one gets too damaged, but fanworks often upgrade it into this territory, because everybody hates Kyubey, especially in the infamous Danbooru image pool (some images NSFW).
- Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv) does this to L.
- Todd in the Shadows tried to make a running gag out of being Driven to Suicide, but dropped it after the second instance. Not before having a chance to lampshade it, though: "Once again, my faith in pop music has been destroyed, which means that once again, it's time to kill myself."
- A justified example in Flander's Company: villain-wannabe Kevin is explicitly stated to have the ability to resurrect each time he is killed; sadly for him, he also has the ability to piss off Hippolyte, who takes advantage on this power to kill him as many times as he can in always more gruesome ways.
- ''Occupy Richie Rich' states that Richie Rich's numerous stupid stunts often get him killed, and the immoral lab workers simply grow a new batch specifically for these instances.
- Parodied in this bit from ClickHolenote .
- The entire point of Happy Tree Friends. Every recurring character except Buddhist Monkey, Panda Mom, and Whistle the dog (each of whom only appeared in two episodes) has died at least once.
- The Black Knight from the French series Rémi le Radis dies in almost every episode he appears... And then comes back with the only explaination given being "You need more than that to kill me!".
- Dawn Meadows, a reporter who gets killed off (and also ladders her pantyhose) in every story but is inevitably back for more punishment at the start of the next. http://theperilsofdawn.deviantart.com/
- Kenny McCormick from South Park is the most well-known example and Trope Namer. During the first few seasons, Stan and Kyle would always give their trope-naming exchange (seen above), sometimes varying it depending on the situation. There's even a pie-chart devoted to the causes of each of his deaths at the top of this page! The formula was played with quite a bit over the years to keep it amusing—giving an obvious way he would die and then using something else instead, having him come back as a zombie for a Halloween Episode and get killed again, having his girlfriend give him CPR, etc. The show creators were aware that this could become an Overused Running Gag though, and made one Very Special Episode where Kenny's death actually stuck. His place in the Four Man Band was later filled by Tweek or Butters, but he then returned with no explanation after one season (Word of God has hinted that it might have had something to do with Jesus dying in the episode he comes back). Now he no longer dies...as often. Trey and Matt mentioned that they were originally planning to kill Kyle off at the end of season 5, but then decided to spare him and have Kenny bite the dust instead since they were getting tired of killing him off in every episode and were running out of original ways by which to do so.
- In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Kenny dies for real however, and goes to hell. He is resurrected only when the forces of Hell invade Earth, and sacrifices himself so that there will be no Hell on Earth. Luckily, he then finds out that he's going to Heaven this time.
- This is lampshaded in a few episodes, particularly in "Cartmanland"
"...and the rest of the money is owed to the family of a boy who died on one of your rides."
"Kenny?! He dies all the time!"
- In later seasons they've taken to subverting/averting this trope. For example, in "Poor and Stupid," Kenny finds himself on an active NASCAR track while accidents are happening all around him and cars are ramming each other trying to win, and manages to not get killed. In other episodes, they use him to avert Like You Would Really Do It. The audience is so used to seeing him die, that whenever they want to have real tension in a potentially fatal situation, they stick Kenny in there.
- And now, it seems that Mysterion is Kenny, and he has been completely aware of these multiple deaths all along, though no one else is much to his annoyance. The three-part episode deconstructs and explains the mechanics of his "power." There are still some plot holes (for example, his resurrection in "Cartman's Mom Is Still A Dirty Slut"), but for a show with Negative Continuity and Multiple-Choice Past it's oddly cogent.
- Actually it could be explained that his reappearance is really their memories of his death being wiped away. They act as if he walked back to them.
- It is - he shoots himself in the head during the Mysterion trilogy after stating he's tired. He awakens in his bed and all the South Park kids as their hero identities show up at his door asking him why he just ran away like that. The same thing happens when he gets knifed in a fight with the others.
- Non-Kenny example: In "Probably," Satan's caught in a Love Triangle, with his two potential boyfriends (Saddam Hussein and some random dude) constantly killing each other. However, since they're already dead and in Hell, this just means they disappear for about a day and show up again with the next batch of damned souls. ("Where was I supposed to go, Detroit?'')
- Osama bin Laden has been killed twice on the show (maybe three times if the events of his real life death occurred in their universe).
- Cartman seems to have this gift, to a lesser extent; in Medicinal Fried Chicken his head exploded. Next time we see him, he's fine.
- Also present in South Park: The Stick of Truth, where if Princess Kenny dies in combat, he'll be picked apart by rats and dragged off, so he cannot be revived. He returns either after two turns or after the combat ends.
- Princess Kenny exploits this trope for all it's worth after betraying the group and becoming the Final Boss. He is killed several times, but keeps coming back (though he does become gradually weaker), until finally, after several resurrections, the New Kid breaks a taboo by farting on his balls. He does come back again, but is no longer evil at that point.
- Virtually every cartoon featuring Wile E. Coyote has the coyote suffer amusing injury after amusing injury with seemingly no long-term consequence. But occasionally, the final backfiring trap has apparently killed him:
- In "To Beep or Not to Beep," where he makes six attempts to use a catapult to hurl a large boulder on top of the unsuspecting Road Runner. Each attempt fails, often in comically spectacular fashion; the sixth attempt has — after much prodding — the catapult finally working (he jumps up and down repeatedly to get it to unjam ... only for him to be hurled toward a large rock formation and then a series of electrical transmission lines, after which he is hurled back to the catapult and finally killed. (After Wile E. is finally flattened, the catapult's manufacturer is revealed — The Road Runner Manufacturing Co., the Road Runner on the name plate "beep-beeping" for joy as he runs off.
- In his pairings with Bugs Bunny, the most spectacular deaths come in:
- "Operation: Rabbit." In the final gag, Bugs uses a tractor to pull away a shed (where the Coyote is busy pouring nitroglycerin into carrots) and unhooks it on some railroad tracks ... just in time for a train to be coming. The train hits the shack, resulting in a huge explosion and sending Coyote high into the air. The dazed Wile E. lives long enough to visit Bugs one last time and admit defeat.
- "Compressed Hare," where in the final gag, Wile E. builds a 10 billion-volt magnet to — after getting Bugs to eat a metal carrot — pull his prey to his cave for an easy dinner. However, not only does Bugs send the carrot back, but the magnet begins pulling everything with metallic properties toward Wile E.'s cave, trapping him inside as the final object, a Mercury rocket attempting liftoff, is pulled into the cave; immediately thereafter, everything explodes and (presumably) kills the Coyote once and for all.
- On one occasion, he blasted himself into space on an out-of-control rocket sled which explodes and turns him into a constellation of stars.
- N.I.G.E.L in Godzilla: The Series was destroyed or heavily damaged in just about every episode. Of course, being a robot, the crew would often send him into dangerous situations so they wouldn't put themselves at risk.
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command has XR, who was built by the LGMs for the purpose of being practically indestructible- he could be reassembled from ludicrous amounts of damage. In the prequel movie, he gains his 'human' personality and improbable equipment loadout from being incorrectly repaired while the LGMs were in disarray. Thus, in pretty much every episode he is destroyed, disassembled, taken over, torn apart, and otherwise suffers all kinds of Amusing Injuries and complains about it all the while.
- Sealab 2021 has the whole base blow up with all hands in several episodes. It once led to the line, "Once again, your stupidity has killed us all!"
- Note that this line was from the show's very first episode.
Dr. Quinn: "You know Sealab is prone to massive explosion!"
- The Simpsons: Hans Moleman dies in just about every episode he appears in.
Willie: Hold on, kids! I'm coming to rescue the lot of you! I'll- OW! Ugh, I'm bad at this. (collapses)
- "Holidays of Futures Past" reveals this is also the case with future Ralph.
- Averted when Maude Flanders dies permanently.
- Æon Flux: Aeon Flux (the main character) died at the end of the first, serialised, season, and in every episode of the second season. The show had Negative Continuity during this period.
- Beast Wars has Waspinator.
- Something happens to Eustace from Courage the Cowardly Dog in every episode. In the pilot, he was shot by a ray gun and reduced to a cinder, but other episodes just have him suffering some horrible fate that there doesn't seem to be any way to reverse.
- Futurama has a minor character, a used car salesman named Malfunctioning Eddie. Every episode he appears in, his head explodes at some point. Of course, being a robot, he is always fixed by his next appearance.
- The entire cast has died at some point at least once, most notably the first Comedy Central episode (Rebirth) when everyone BUT the Professor died, and the Professor himself often declares himself to not be technically alive. In the episode Ghost in the Machines, even the robots Bender and the Robot Devil die during the episode and are alive again before the end of it, which is amusing considering in the prior season Bender was told he'd killed off for real if he ever died. The episode doesn't technically violate continuity, since Bender wound up in his same body while the Robot Devil downloaded to a new one.
- Even the city of New New York and Earth itself have been Kenny'd several times, from being scorched by the Omicronians to being consumed by a Grey Goo of Benders, only to be rebuilt perfectly in time for the next episode. Even lampshaded during one such ending.
- Everyone in Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but mostly Carl. [adult swim] even has a video of some of Carl's deaths.
- Virtually everyone in Squidbillies, especially Rusty, the Sheriff, Granny, the convenience store guy, and Early himself. Technically justified for the Sheriff, as it's revealed he's actually one of hundreds of identical Sheriffs grown in a field, all just as stupid and incompetent as him.
- In most episodes of The Venture Bros. H.E.L.P.eR. has something horrible happen to him, including being sent into orbit around the Earth and shrunk to ant-size and stepped on. Of course he's a robot so it's likely that he gets repeatedly fixed up. As well, Hank and Dean are shown in the first episode of the second season through flashback to have been killed/died and then re-animated via cloning many, many times.
- Sylvester J. Pussycat from Looney Tunes died the most out of any golden age cartoon character at 16 deaths in 8 cartoons with one of them losing all nine of his lives one at a time, but he always came back when he was needed.
- Fluffy and Uranus the teddy bear secretaries from Duckman died in every episode they appeared in except one.
- The entire cast of Drawn Together is subject to this, with Toot and Ling-Ling dying the most.
- Somewhat justified with Xandir, as he is a video game character with numerous extra lives in reserve. In one episode, however, Ling-Ling was so angry with him that he killed off all of Xandir's extra lives, though that didn't stop Xandir from coming back to life the next episode anyway.
- Totally Justified. He used a CONTINUE after that one.
- He also lost all but one of his extra lives in "Gay Bash", but it still didn't stop him from coming back from the dead in later episodes.
- Could also be considered justified in regards to Captain Hero and Toot, since the former is a comic book character and the latter comes from a 1920s cartoon shorts series, mediums known for Death Is Cheap and constant use of the Snap Back respectively.
- Lampshaded by Wooldoor in "Lost In Parking Space: Pt. 2": "We can't just keep dying and coming back to life the next episode! IT'S TOTALLY ILLOGICAL!"
- After which Ling-Ling appears to say he agrees with that—two minutes after dying himself.
- Finally subverted in the movie as, since their show was canceled, there was no Negative Continuity to glean from to resurrect them. Once they were dead, it was for keeps.
- Optimus Prime of Transformers is known to die once or twice in almost every continuity he appears in. The TF Wiki even has a special page for recording The Many Deaths of Optimus Prime.
- Robot Chicken has the host of the Blooper shows, who always ends the show by killing himself. The entire show's staff has been killed at least once as well.
- Tom of Tom and Jerry has died at least three or four times, not counting the short Heavenly Puss which was All Just a Dream. He's been executed in Revolutionary France in The Two Mouseketeers, and in another cartoon is blown up and floats upward toward Heaven after a failed attempt to catch Jerry. Hell, it's implied that he and Jerry commited suicide in "Blue Cat Blues"! But of course he's back next cartoon as if nothing happened.
- It's an established cartoon fact that cats have nine lives. Or was it seven? So he still has reserve.
- Daffy Duck has died four or five times: first in "Daffy and the Dinosaur" when a giant inflatable duck he set up and goaded another character into attacking exploded and both are last seen as angels on clouds with Daffy remarking that maybe the whole gag "wasn't such a hot idea after all". In "Draftee Daffy" when the rocket he's riding on crashes and explodes and his soul is last seen in Hell. In Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century he is vaporized by Marvin the Martian (but revived by Porky so this one may not count), in "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" he may or may not have died after shooting himself in the head, and in "Show Biz Bugs" he swallows a bunch of explosives and tosses a lit match down his throat causing himself to explode and is then seen as a ghost.
- The title characters of The Ren & Stimpy Show died at the end of many of their shorts, most notably in "Terminal Stimpy" when Stimpy keeps getting killed and he tries to stop himself from losing his last life.
- Muddy Mudskipper has died at least three times, in "Powdered Toastman" he is left behind on an exploding dynamite keg and his skeleton is seen flying from the debris of the explosion, in "Bass Masters" he is seen as a trophy mounted on a wall, and in "Terminal Stimpy" he is run over by Stimpy and after his dying wishes are fulfilled he asks Stimpy to be skipped across a pond and he is then hit by a bus and his corpse is seen sticking to the grill.
- Scarface the Ventriloquist's puppet from Batman: The Animated Series is destroyed at the end of every episode he appears in. The creators said they went out of their way to give Scarface the most gruesome "deaths" they could, which they'd never get away with if he was a human, because hey, he's a puppet, so it's okay. Since he's (probably) just a projection of the Ventriloquist's addled mind, he comes back in the time it takes the Ventriloquist to carve a new dummy.
- A running gag in Celebrity Deathmatch was Don King getting killed randomly during matches; he eventually had a deathmatch himself against Donald Trump who kills him for the last time in the series when he climbs down his throat and tears him apart from the inside.
- After King's permanent death, he was replace by an unnamed popcorn vendor.
- Several other celebrities were also killed more than once:
- The members of Hanson were killed by being crushed under a light rigging in "Deathbowl '98" and sliced themselves to pieces with a chainsaw in "Nick Returns".
- Leonardo Di Caprio was killed twice: Jack Nicholson slams his face into a turnbuckle until it caves into his skull in "Presented by Big Bull Beer", and he's eaten by a Venus flytrap in "Nick Gets High".
- Bruce Willis was killed by Stone Cold Steve Austin in "The Missing Girl" and Demi Moore kicks his head off in "The Changing of the Guard".
- Courtney Love was ripped to pieces by a bear in "Masters of the Martial Arts" and crushed by a piano in "Courtney Love Returns", but this may not count because she turned out to be Not Quite Dead the first time.
- The Backstreet Boys were crushed by a rocket in "Battle of the Boys With Toys" (but Nick brought them back via Deal with the Devil so this also might not count) and impaled on spike railings in "Fandemonium 2000".
- Drew Barrymore's face is smashed in in "The Unknown Murderer" and she is decapitated sliced in half in "The Prisoners".
- Ben Stiller is electrocuted by Bob Dylan in "Family Night I" and his head is punted off by a football in "Night of Comedy Comeback".
- Sean Penn's spine and spleen are torn out by Tom Hanks in "The Laser Pointer", and Mills Lane slams a brick into his head in "Stand-up vs. Smack-down".
- Ricky Martin was ripped apart from the inside by Marilyn Manson's giant hand in "Fandemonium II" and he dies in an unknown manner in "Season Finale".
- The Olsen Twins are torn to shreds by Betty Sue Olsen in "Teen Night" and in "Sibling Slaughterhouse" Mary-Kate's stomach bursts out of her body and Kelly Osbourne stabs Ashley to death with CDS.
- Tommy Lee is eaten by baby monkeys in "Sex, Lugs, and Rock 'n' Roll" and his head is crushed between Pamela Anderson's breasts in "Season Finale".
- In Jackie Chan Adventures when Dao Lon Wong turns Finn, Chow, and Ratso into Dark Chi Warriors they got killed multiple times per episode exploding into dust every time they do so, until they are changed back. Uncle explains that Wong had the power to resurrect them any time he wanted.
- In the Private Snafu shorts, the title character died in 6 out of his 15 shorts all due to his stupidity; these were made to teach soldiers what they shouldn't do when in the army.
- In Superjail the fat, balding, lecherous inmate (the one who wants to show you his penis) gets killed several times but is always shown as a recurring character.
- Actually this extends to all of the inmates of the prison in general.
- The leader of the lunch ladies is often killed or maimed in some fashion. If there are a group of them around, chances are the rest will suffer in some way too.
- Katnip Cat of Herman and Katnip died at the end of many of their shorts.
- Nearly every episode of Stressed Eric had Eric die from stress at the end.
- The title characters from both Johnny Bravo and SpongeBob SquarePants have both completely exploded... and somehow returned... seconds later in the same episode.
- Justified with SpongeBob; it's explicitly shown he can regenerate.
- Also in SpongeBob, a fish named Scooter apparently drowned when SpongeBob left him buried up to his neck on the beach. He appeared later in that episode as a ghost/angel. Let that sink in for a few seconds.
- Scooter was seen alive and well in later episodes but died on two other occasions. In "Something Smells" SpongeBob's stinky breath killed him and another fish and in "My Pretty Seahorse" after he thinks Mystery the seahorse is a ride and inserts a coin into her she kicks him and he explodes where he lands.
- In Woody Woodpecker his nemesis Buzz Buzzard died in a couple of shorts. In "Wild and Woody" Woody locked him in a stove and threw dynamite inside causing it to explode and then guides his soul to hell, in "Buccaneer Woody" he lights a match in a gun barrel he's carrying and after it explodes he's seen as a ghost, in "Scalp Treatment" he's blasted off into the distance with a large explosion where he lands, and in "The Great Who Dood It" he launches him into space with exploding cigars.
- Woody himself has died in a couple of cartoons such as "Ration Bored."
- There's a series of short films based on a picture book named "The Many Deaths of Norman Spitall," in which the title character would die or be executed by quirky methods.
- Surprisingly mostly averted in Family Guy. Once a character dies they stay dead, unless they're Meg.
- Peter's died a few times, but he's tight with Death. Except when he WAS Death.
- Bluto from Popeye has died in a couple of shorts like in "Blow Me Down" after being punched around the world twice by Popeye he falls to the ground with x's on his eyes and in "We Aim To Please" at the end Popeye punches him into a wall where he lands on a meat hook and he turns into cuts of meat labeled "a bunch of baloney"
- In Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, the crew had a trio of robots who they would sometimes use to protect them, they would give them a command and they would repeat the command they were given and be instantly destroyed by the Monster of the Week.
- In the South Park parody segment in the Arthur special episode "The Contest", Buster's character fell victim to this trope after aliens landed directly on top of him right when he told the aliens to land. Staying true to the source material, Francine's character shouts "Hey! You squished Buster!"
- Many of Chris's interns in the Total Drama series end up dying in various horrible ways only to come back perfectly fine in future episodes.
- Donald Duck may have died at least three times. In "Uncle Donald's Ants" after getting sick of the ants invading his house he attempts to blow them up, resulting in him blowing himself and his shed sky high instead. The cartoon ends without seeing him come back down. In "Dragon Around" Chip and Dale attach explosives to his ladder, again blowing him into the air, and like the previous entry he isn't seen again. In "All In a Nut Shell" Donald is knocked unconscious and Chip and Dale place him in a log then stuff a bee hive into it. When the bees sting Donald he goes bolting out of the log like a cannonball into the horizon. Chip and Dale hold their hats while "Taps" plays and they laugh.
- Another Looney Tunes character to get this treatment is Yosemite Sam. In the short "Devil's Feud Cake", Sam has a run-in with Bugs Bunny and gets himself killed. He finds himself in Hell, where the Devil offers to bring him back to life if he can send him Bugs's soul to take his place in Hell (by killing Bugs). Sam ends up getting himself killed a second time while going after Bugs, so the Devil "gives him another chance" and sends him after Bugs again. After dying the third time, Yosemite Sam tells the Devil that if he wants Bugs so badly he should go get him himself - he's staying put this time.
- He also died at the end of "Dumb Patrol" after his plane crashed into an ammunition dump and he's last seen as a spirit in a devil costume strumming a harp.
- Elmer Fudd died at least twice. After being buried alive in "The Old Grey Hare", Bugs hands him a huge stick of dynamite and the explosion rocks the title card as the ending plays. In "Back Alley Oproar" he is fed up with Sylvester's singing so he plants a bunch of dynamite around the fence; it explodes as he lights it, killing both of them. He's seen as an angel on a cloud surrounded by Sylvester's past 9 lives (still singing). This last one may or may not count but in the ending of "Hare Do" he is eaten by a lion but he's still alive before the Iris Out.
- It's also possible he died at the end of "Ant Pasted", Elmer is at war with a colony of ants who use firecrackers as arsenal, at the end Elmer gathers up the remaining firecrackers and runs away yelling "You'll never take me alive!" unknowingly leaving a trail of gunpowder behind, the ants light the powder and blow him up in a massive explosion and you don't see him after that.
- Zorak from The Brak Show died at the end of a lot of episodes, most commonly being shot or blown up.
- Several characters such as Grim, Billy, Irwin, and General Skarr from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy have died multiple times.
- Granted, they have The Grim Reaper under their control. They could easily reverse death with him.
- Everyone in Action League NOW!; every episode usually involves heavy objects falling on the characters, someone getting dismembered, run over by cars...and more!
- Anton the toast from The Amazing World of Gumball is often eaten alive, but he always gets better. In the third season episode "The Recipe", we see his parents replace him with a clone (made by a toaster) every time he dies.
- Rigby from Regular Show has died or almost died on multiple occasions, often getting better through supernatural means.
- Harry Sachz the man whom Beavis And Butthead prank phone called repeatedly to make fun of his name died twice, the first time was in "Butt Flambe" when he received a gunshot wound and later died in the hospital and in "Nothing Happening" he is killed during a standoff with the police, he came back both times with no explanation.
- Invader Zim has this with Invader Skoodge, who's been thrown to a planet of "slaughtering rat people", shot out of a canon, eaten by the Hogulus beast twice, etc. only to return later on completely unharmed.
Skoodge: Yeah, but I'm better now.
- Several characters in the show have this happen occasionally; notable examples include Zim's death at the end of "Backseat Drivers From Beyond the Stars" and "Hobo 13", both his and Dib's presumed deaths in "Walk For Your Lives" and "Bolognius Maximus", and Keef's death in "Bestest Friends"; all of them apparently recover by the next episode. Made more confusing by the occasional Continuity Nod, implying that the show doesn't actually run on Negative Continuity.
- A minor character on The Cleveland Show died in almost all of his appearance. He's knocked out a window in a regular episode, gets shot in the Die Hard parody, and gets shot again in another non-canon episode spoofing The Sopranos.
- In several episodes of Dan Vs. Dan's car is destroyed, vandalized, etc and it re-appears to its original semi-destroyed and vandalized state by the next episode. However unlike the other examples of this trope the damage to the car often times jump starts the plot for that episode.
- While not a specific character per se, when showing off the gargantuan height of some new project the boys have made in Phineas and Ferb, expect a bird to crash into the invention and plummet to the ground.
- Entree of Spliced may have died at least twice: In "Whirrel Call", he is killed when his brain goes flying out of his head after he falls off a cliff and his body is then destroyed by being crushed by a boulder, and he may have died in "Sgt. Snuggums" when the island is blown up.
- The town itself has been destroyed several times: Two-Legs Joe smashed it to the ground in a rampage in "Stompabout" (but that may not count since Peri and Entree rebuilt it), Octocat blows it up in "Sgt. Snuggums", Peri and Entree blow it up repeatedly in "Same Difference" (which Joe claims they've done 50 times before), and Entree telepathically sinks it in one short.
- At the New York Renaissance Faire, Sheriff of Nottingham Philip De Marque has been killed off a number of times at the end of many years' story lines.
- Alice Cooper "dies" at the end of his concerts.